Elderly citizens in our country should always be given the utmost respect. After all, it was on their backbones that this great nation was built. They have stories to tell — experiences that many of us will, thankfully, never be forced to live through. Although it may seem a bit cliché to refer to them as national treasures, that doesn’t make it any less true.
The reality, however, is that elder abuse happens in nursing homes much more often than most people realize. These homes are supposed to be safe havens, places where elderly men and women can live out the remainder of their days in as much comfort and serenity as possible. Every person in a nursing home has the right to be free of any type of abuse or neglect, but that is too often not the case.
What You Should Look For
There are two primary types of abuse against the elderly: intentional infliction of injury and neglect. Physical abuse is typically the easiest to spot, because much of the time, there will be telltale signs of such abuse on the person’s skin. Mental abuse, however, is another form of intentional infliction of injury and is a bit more difficult to ascertain. These may include mental anguish, intimidation, and purposeful lack of care/service as a form of punishment. On the other side, there is neglect (intentional or not) where the person’s basic or specific needs are not being met. Whenever you visit, it is important that you delve deeply into how your loved one is being treated, and ask them pointed questions to bring out any possible neglect.
The Next Steps
First and foremost, you must remain calm. Your immediate reaction may be to swoop down on the facility and, quite frankly, let loose on anyone within reach. As tempting as that may sound, though, you could end up making a bad situation worse. What you want to do is collect all of the information you can, including photographs of the injuries, statements from witnesses, and copies of all of the records the facility created since the resident’s admission to that facility, and quickly report the problem to the proper agency. In Colorado, complaints against nursing home facilities are investigated by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). .Depending on the nature of the abuse, you may also need to contact local law enforcement.
How to Avoid Abuse and Neglect
There’s no reason to think that every nursing home out there is some kind of evil entity that is hellbent on abusing or neglecting the elderly. Nothing could be further from the truth, as nearly two million elderly Americans are cared for very well in a long-term care facility on a daily basis. But, as with all things, there are bad apples that ruin it for the whole bunch. What can you do? First, fully investigate any nursing home that your loved one is considering. Second, visiting your loved ones on a regular basis is imperative if you want to tackle any problems before they begin to fester and worsen. And third, never be afraid to grill the staff with multiple questions of the person’s care.
When a loved one has been abused or neglected, it can be a delicate matter that requires a great deal of care and diligence to bring all the facts to bear. If you suspect elder abuse or neglect, you’ll want to reach out to a law firm that is well-versed in handling such cases. The personal injury attorneys at Mintz Law Firm take elder abuse very seriously and will work tirelessly to obtain a great outcome for you and your loved ones.